We all know that vegetables are a major part of a balanced diet but many of us don’t eat enough. The recommended serving size for vegetables is at least 2 cups a day but that mark is not always easy to hit. If most of us don’t eat enough, kids eat even fewer which frustrates most parents. They’re vital for health, especially when it comes to growing kids, which means that parents may become anxious at the thought that their child isn’t getting enough of them. At some point in time, those anxieties abate, and parents give up, demoralized at rejected vegetable over rejected vegetable, and let their kid live on a pure diet of carbs.
Introducing your kids to vegetables early and often is a great way to ensure they grow up loving vegetables but you may be past that point all ready and desperate to inject some broccoli into their diet. All hope is not lost and there are ways to get your child eating more vegetables and with enough consistency, your kid will may even start asking for them!
Hide them – Dice up some cauliflower in mac and cheese, throw some spinach in a smoothie or bake some zucchini into zucchini bread. With kids, it’s not always the taste that they rejecting since they usually say no before they even have the chance to taste it. Help them get over their psychological opposition to vegetables by having them eat it without even knowing. If you’re worried your child will catch on to what you’re doing, you can start off with smaller portions and slowly build up over time.
Make them a daily part of meals – Kids watch what you do more than what you say and if you make them a part of eating and they see you eating them, they’ll be more likely to try them too. It could also be that just seeing them on their plate day after day will slowly break them down and they’ll find themselves trying it. Just like many things with kids, routine is key and if they’re used to never or rarely seeing a vegetable they’re more likely to reject them than if they see them every day.
Don’t force them – Everyone has that memory of their parent telling them they have to clean everything off of their plate, including the brussel sprouts that they hate before dinner is over. This will only make your kid protest vegetables more and defeats the purpose of getting your child to like them. Put the vegetables on your child’s plate and make it a requirement that they try them before they say they don’t like them but don’t force them to eat them after they try them and let you know they don’t like them. It could be that it’s all a control thing and they really do like them, but let them make the choice on their own.
Re-introduce them – Kids love apples one day and hate them the next and the same is true of vegetables. One of the biggest mistakes that parents can make with vegetables or any food is to completely banish a food from their diet just because their kid says they don’t like them one time. Rather than do this, semi-regularly, re-introduce the same vegetable to see if their mind has magically changed about that vegetable.
Cook them in different ways – It could be that your child just doesn’t like the way the vegetable taste because of the way that it was prepared. Perhaps they’re not into steamed broccoli but they’ll love it roasted. They don’t like raw spinach but they like it sautéed. They don’t like peas by themselves but think they’re delicious in a pea and carrot medley. Just because you like something a certain way, doesn’t mean that your child automatically will and instead of throwing in the towel after the first no, go back to the drawing board repeatedly until you eventually get a yes.